Q&A with Republican candidates seeking party nomination for State House

Routt County Republican's Chair Pete Wood, left, moderates a candidate forum between Savannah Wolfson and Glenn Lowe, right, at the Hayden Center on Tuesday, May 24, 2022.
Dylan Anderson/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Steamboat Pilot & Today asked the candidates vying for the Republican nomination for Colorado House District 26 to participate in a Q&A to better inform voters ahead of the June 28 primary.

The race between Savannah Wolfson of Oak Creek and Glenn Lowe of Eagle is the only competitive local matchup in the upcoming primary.

What experience do you have in the district and how does that prepare you to represent such an expansive constituency?

Wolfson: I am already a well-known voice for my community and will continue to be one no matter the outcome of this election. For example, I was there the night House District 26 was formed through public testimony in Routt County, and I organized for many people to be there. I made sure every major industry got representation that night, so the commission understood our diversity. After that night, one of my ranching friends, Sarajane Snowden, said, “She has a true talent of expressing herself and getting her point across in a way that really is so clear and really represents her neighbors.” To be a representative means to be your voice, which is a natural fit for me. I pinpoint problems, put them into words and help the community solve them together. My advocacy for the district has always been, and will always be, to protect and unify us.

Lowe: I am more experienced in HD 26 by far out of any candidate running for this office. I was raised In House District 26 and raised my two boys in this district. I spent most of my life playing outside in all four of these counties and have given my time as a coach in skiing, lacrosse and football. I have also had to navigate my family as a single father through the great recession of 2008. That and the fact that I am a small business owner in this district is what separates me from other candidates. I have experienced the highs and lows of Colorado as a family just like the vast majority of House District 26. That experience is crucial to truly being your voice for Northwest Colorado.

Who are the voters you believe you appeal to most and how are you working to reach them?

Lowe: To be honest, in the world we are living in now, I believe that I appeal to most voters. The people of House District 26 want to know that they are being heard. They want to be in control of the representative, not the other way around. I have said many times I have no desire to be anyone’s leader, I just want to be your voice. I have spent the last two months knocking on doors. I have almost surpassed 2,500 doors on my own. This kind of outreach is what my expectation is of my representative so it’s what I will do for you. Social media Is a wonderful tool for outreach, but I will have a hands-on approach and I will work hard for my constituents.

Wolfson: Many Colorado voters are ready for change. I have commonality with anyone who wants affordability, a crackdown on criminals who constantly reoffend, and to end the war on rural Colorado. That’s most of us. Very few people are OK with the direction of our country and state right now. Those who are still feeling comfortable should have some empathy for those who are no longer thriving and vote in a way that empowers their neighbors to succeed. As I go to every county, I listen to and share your stories. So many of you have a story of our state government trampling their small business or being soft on violent criminal acts. Everyone who works hard in Northwest Colorado should be allowed to thrive, but our state government is ruining that for many of us.

What is the most significant issue for House District 26, and how would you approach it both in the short and long term?

Wolfson: I spoke with a mother a few weeks ago who could not get birthday cupcakes for her son because she couldn’t afford to fill up her tank with gas. In such a prosperous corner of the world, this is absolutely unacceptable. In the long term, I remain the only candidate in the race who has taken a public pledge to honor your family’s finances through not raising taxes and “fees.” In the short term, one thing we need is to repeal the 8-cent gas increase that the Democrats are planning for after the election. It is mostly going toward green energy projects. Trucking our groceries in has become too expensive. While the roof is caving in on many families in this district, the state leaders are picking out new curtains for the dining room. If we look at states like California, we can see that voting blue doesn’t increase affordability.

Lowe: We have so many issues in this district and it’s hard to rank them. It really is a tale of two worlds. A large issue for the whole district however is education. We need to take the cuffs off our teachers in the form of standardized testing and allow them to work more closely to parents. I believe all parents can agree, Colorado needs a parental bill of rights. Also, out of all 50 states Colorado teachers statistically get paid the least and that needs to change. I’m sure all parents would love to homeschool, however the vast majority don’t have the ability to do that, so we need to focus on having a school system parents can trust with our most prized possessions giving them quality education.

Several large fires have scorched thousands of acres in the district. What would you do to help both prevent and support communities after these fires if elected?

Lowe: Colorado needs to invest more time and money into fire mitigation. However, I believe if we ease some of the hurdles logging companies must go through to access these areas, the state of Colorado won’t have to use taxpayer money to do most of it. Private industry is always a better option, and we should do the entire process in Colorado instead of supporting the economy in other states. I have seen my personal friends and family affected by fires all over this district and it is avoidable. 

Wolfson: We’re all so tired of our children breathing smoke. In addition, the fire scars are what caused the mudslides in Glenwood Canyon, redirecting I-70 traffic through tiny downtown areas all over Northwest Colorado. Worse still, people have lost their homes, all due to poor forest management on our public lands. Low-heat fires used to be normal and cleansing for the forest, but we suppressed all fires, halted other forms of forest management, and built up unnaturally large fuel loads. As the saying goes, “Log it, graze it, or watch it burn.” Right now, we’re watching it burn, which is wrong. I will use the bully pulpit to stand up for our state, advocating for logging and grazing animals to clean out dead materials from our forests. This is our state government’s right and duty.

What will you do in the legislature to support the communities in House District 26 that are transitioning away from a coal-power generation based economy?

Wolfson: Colorado will soon see that people are not willing to sit in cold, dark homes. They treat us like we don’t matter as much, and then they say, “Just learn to code/manufacture.” Anyone who thinks jobs between energy and other industries are automatically transferable is out of touch. I will support new industries freely coming to the area (For example, the county commissioners in Moffat are in touch with Lockheed Martin, which might bring 12 jobs to the community, but they pay less than energy. Mostly, they’d bring in their own aerospace engineers). Coal can still be harvested for many products, even if the Democrats succeed in banning it in energy use. As your representative, I will always advocate against all unfair government overreach into your life. The job of government is not to pick winners and losers, incentivizing some industries over others.

Lowe: A large portion of our district is affected to the extreme based on who is in office. These families should not have to depend so much on the outcome of an election to support themselves. As much as I believe that our oil and coal in this district is imperative to the whole country, my job as a legislator is to give everyone access to the American dream no matter where they are. Manufacturing companies want to be in House District 26, and we have the perfect highly trained workforce for those jobs. As your representative I will work to bring those jobs to you and your families.

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